Monday, February 13, 2012

Confessions of a Mom who Circumcised and Wants Answers

© Copyright 2012 Shannon


I don't know how to start this. My heart hurts every day for the mistake I made that I can never take back. I cry every day and hope that my son can forgive me for the uneducated decision that I had no right to make on his behalf.

January 2011, my son was born perfect. My labor was unmedicated and fairly quick. I was proud of myself and my lil babe for doing so well. He was 8lb 3 oz of gorgeous chubby baby! He nursed right away and was very happy. My jewish husband always assumed that our son would be circumcised. I never questioned it. I didn't know I should. I didn’t think there were risks. I was so ignorant. I hardly even thought about the procedure until that day.

I have 4 younger brothers. Two are circumcised & 2 are not. My mother never really explained too much about it, she just said that my grandfather wanted his grandsons circumcised and then when she had the younger 2 boys she didn't want it done. The only experience I'd ever heard about the care of any of my brothers penis', was my youngest. I can remember at least 5 times in his childhood when he'd had an infection. He would cry and say his penis hurt. It would be red and inflamed. And my mother told me it was because the opening of his foreskin wasn't big enough when it was separating from the glands? I never thought too much about it at the time, but 8 years later, when I found out I was having a son, I remembered my brother's hard times and I sure didn't want that for my son.

So when the doctor came in to talk to us about our son's circumcision, all I could think about was how this was the safest best option for him in the long run. I asked the doctor how many he had performed before and begged him to be careful because my baby only gets one penis & there was no going back. He joked that this was his first, then reassured me that he had performed hundreds before and he would do just fine.

He even almost tried to tell me it was an unnecessary procedure, but he sure didn’t warn us of any risks or any dangers. We had asked permission for my husband to be present to say the Jewish prayer while they performed the circumcision. There was no way I could've been in that room, I said. Now I wish I was, because I'm sure I would've stopped it! I can not imagine seeing my perfect baby strapped to a table...

My husband was in the room while they physically and permanently mutilated our son. When my son came back to the room, he wouldn't nurse. I asked if this was normal and they assured me it was. They assured me he didn't cry and everything went perfect. They used something called a plastibell and told me it was safer. A plastibell circumcision leaves part of the plastic ring on the head of the penis for healing. It falls off on its own around the same time as the umbilical cord. I asked about how to care for it and they told me not to put anything on it!

I was surprised because I did remember a friend having a son not that long before and she said something about lots of vaseline. But I asked again and they said the plastibell required no extra care and not to put anything on it, it would heal on its own. Not to wipe it with a wipe, but drip a little warm water on it from squeezing a wet paper towel. That's it. No further instructions, no warnings, nothing to look out for, not how to care for it after the plastibell fell off. Sent us home...

So the first week was "fine". But when the plastibell ring started to fall off unevenly I got nervous. I called everyone I knew that had a son and asked if they were circumcised with a plastibell and if this was normal. A friend of mine stopped by who had 2 sons who had this type of circumcision and said it looked "normal". At our 2 week check up the Dr said it was ok and not to worry. Still said we shouldn't be putting anything on it. So when the ring came all the way off I was relieved. Everything seemed to be alright? But I've never taken care of a circumcised penis before! I noticed there was still enough foreskin to cover the head of his penis. Once a day I would pull it back just a little to wipe it clean. I never pulled it back too much because I didn’t want to hurt him. Everything seemed fine.

At about 3 1/2 months I noticed a small part of the remaining foreskin was reattaching to the head of my son's penis. When I asked the Dr about it at his 4 month visit, she said not to pull it apart because it would cause scarring and cause him pain in the future. So I was sure not to pull it apart! Well then I started to notice it attaching more. Every time I talked to my mother about my concerns, she would tell me I was “obsessed with his penis” and she was sure it was fine. This of course made me feel worse. Was I “obsessed”? I don’t know. How could I not notice it? I changed him 10 times a day!

We saw a different Dr at our next visit and he told us to separate it, but I was concerned about scarring like the other Dr had warned us about. So I did not. I started to do some research online. From what I’ve read, it seems like he has penile adhesions. Some sources say to separate it at home and some say he’ll need surgery.

At about 8 months I took him to a ND because I wanted to try out a more natural health care provider. Even though it was going to cost me $200 out of pocket for our 1st visit, I was excited to talk to someone more on my page. When I called to make the appt and spoke to the ND on the phone, she assured me that she could address every question I had, including his circumcision. Well I was extremely disappointed with our visit. Not only were we rushed and hardly had enough time to remember all my questions, but when she looked at his circumcision, she said “I think it looks ok, but I’m not a penis expert” Really? Ugh, we never went back.

A few months later I made an appt with our Dr for a referral to a urologist. I wanted to talk to someone who looked at penises all day. I needed an answer! Our Dr wouldn’t give us a referral. She said if he wasn’t in pain, not to worry about it. She said to give him a warm and then gently separate it and then apply vaseline. At this time he was 10 months old. He would not sit any kind of still for me to try to separate it. I still try on a daily basis. It is only an uncomfortable situation. I am terrified of making it worse, but don’t trust the Dr’s to help us. I am terrified that he will need another surgery to correct this!

He is now a year old. I am going to make another appt with our Dr to try to get a referral to an urologist again. I don’t know if I will trust what they say if we do get the chance to go after all the different answers.

He is my perfect little guy and I am so mad at myself for putting him through this. I feel like a failure of a mother! How could I not protect him. How could I just let them do a surgery on my one day old PERFECT baby without doing any research???? I am so angry at myself, I can’t stand it. I make myself sick to my stomach wishing I could go back to that day and change things.

Has anyone had their son go through this? What was the outcome? I feel so lost and don’t know who to trust.

I have permanently mutilated my perfect baby boy. I regret it with my whole heart and soul."


Plastibell circumcision method

28 comments:

  1. Shannon, I really wish I had had more time when I was at the ball field with you to talk to you about Circumcision. I had all the information and I feel like I failed because I did not share it with you. It is sometimes a tough thing to bring up with people and I have learned my lesson to speak up. Try to help a mother out who might not be aware. I am sorry. I should have said something.

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    1. Erin, Please don't carry any responsibility for this! It was my terrible decision & hopefully I can make better decisions for his future than I did in his past. I absolutely know how hard of a subject it is to bring up! It is a very loaded topic! You didn't fail. I did. I am the one who consented to a surgery I was so ignorant about :(

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  2. Shannon, it takes a lot of courage to wrote what you did. And sharing your story will surely help other new parents to know that they need to learn more! As for your son, I think as long as he doesn't develop infections, you should probably leave it alone - the remainder of his foreskin just wants to be adhered like it would have been. I suspect it will separate later in childhood or puberty like a full foreskin would. The less disturbance it has, the less scar tissue will develop. He is actually lucky he was left with some skin to grow into. Good luck to you and my sympathies for your regret. Thanks for being so brave and talking about it! None of us are perfect parents!

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  3. I can relate to this story. I wish I was more educated as well. My Sons foreskin attaches almost every day and after every bath I have to hold him down and pull it back. I cry so hard and will probably never forgive myself. The doctor said I had to do this if it attached permanently then he will have to have and operation to correct it. This is what causes crooked penis. When they have an erection it actually painful because of the skin =(

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  4. My 4 year old had those adhesions as well. His original pedi told us to separate them or he would have to have his circ done again!! So for nearly a year I tortured that boy, at least once every 3 days, by tearing his tender flesh away from the head of his penis. Oh how he screamed. Oh how red he became. Oh how my heart hurt. But what did I know? I was doing what the doctor told me to! That's what you're supposed to do, right?
    Right?
    Wrong!
    When we moved states and I talked to our new pedi about his circumcision, he very bluntly asked me if I enjoyed torturing my son. I was shocked. Of course not! I love that little guy. Why would I WANT to hurt him?
    According to him there was no reason to mess with the attachments. So I stopped.
    Today he is almost 5 and while he LOOKS uncircumcised, because the head of his penis likes to hide (I can't imagine why :( ) he is fine. He has recently been experimenting with himself and I happened to notice it erect and it looked like a (dare I say "normal" for lack of a better word) circumcised penis.
    While, like you, I do wish there was a way I could go back in time and remove the ghastly things I did to my boys... I can't. And I just have to forgive myself- and not let it happen ever again. To any of my children, or my grandchildren.
    My oldest boy had the plastibell as well, and he had no complications with it, but he was not the one who had the adhesions. But I have heard that those plastibells are horrible... and have cut off the heads of penises. That's what the new pedi told me. :/

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  5. How can anyone say this does not hurt a newborn? Not only do they experience immense pain at they time of the un-medicated surgery but then continue to experience the damage done for the rest of their life. Thanks for posting this!

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    1. Immense pain at the time of the surgery? Have you witnessed plastibell circumcisions? and I mean more then watching a video on youtube... I've had both of my sons circumcised and neither of them made a peep the entire time. They sucked on their pacifiers and gawked curiously around the room. Not exactly what you'd expect from a baby that is in 'immense pain'. Many babies cry at the simple fact they're being laid down, having their diaper changed, or just getting dressed... So I can understand why seeing a child cry during the procedure can be misunderstood. But I beg people to FULLY research before making uneducated statements such as yours.

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  6. Here's a mother's story about her son's adhesion for a year. http://bit.ly/ZDEfA

    For a doctor referral, I recommend Doctors Opposing Circumcision .org Also they have info at their site like this "Chapter Five: Post-operative Complications of Circumcision" - adhesions-
    "Gracely-Kilgore reports that 15 percent of boys seen in her practice had adhesions and three percent required surgical correction.11 Adhesions may require surgical separation by a urologic specialist.13"

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  7. I too live with the same regret. Had I known better or had any information I wouldnt have gone though with it. I am also convinced the dr messed up as well. We have the information now so the best we can do is help spread the word. Big hugs mamma, your not a failer!!!!!

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  8. Here was a response received via email:

    "Hello!
    I am totally unfamiliar with your blog I apologize, but someone sent me there tonight and maybe for a reason!
    I went through the exact same thing, just not with the plastibell...
    First of all...I don't think there is anything permanent based on what you've said. HOWEVER, it does sound exactly like adhesions and you DON'T want your son to go through what mine did which was a fluke appt. with a dif. pediatrician in our group, who manually ripped them back without warning to me, and caused bleeding and unknown pain to my son. I totally understand your fears and your lack of information from so-called medical professionals. We also went to a urologist...who said to "just wait". I think the terrible lack of information is that you should have been told to be pulling back the foreskin and basically slathering on vaseline on a regular basis.

    If you really think it's adhered so totally, I would DEMAND a serious numbing agent immediately and that they be "un-adhered" in the most humane way possible. they are not circumcising as "tightly" as in our generation and they are not informing mothers until after the fact or if at all. This accounts for the foreskin still covering the tip, especially as infants. Once the adhesions are removed it will not be pretty and your little guy is going to hurt for a bit. My son swelled up like a red tire around his penis for a while after she did that to him. I felt guilty as well and I totally had all the thoughts you did! BUT he's four now and perfect!! So if your pediatrician doesn't want to give you a referral to the urologist simply for peace of mind, then it's definitely time to find one who will!!!
    Stacey "

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  9. My circumcision story is posted on this blog, last summer. I can totally identify with your guilt and wondering what to tell your child when he gets older. If you ever want to talk leave a message on this blog and i will send you my email. I wish I could say in time, you will feel less guilty. But I did not. It was a conscious decision, to put the guilt aside, and to realize that I screwed up, but it is in the past, and I purposed to do better from then on. I know your mama heart is hurting, like a sore that will never heal. In time, it will be easier to quiet those guilt demons, with words of truth.. "I will never do this again." "I am a changed mama and am doing the best that I can for my son now." Peace to you.

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  10. First, I am not sure I would trust Western medical physicians--whether urologists, etc--to help fix a problem they not only caused, but in fact do not "see" as a problem (for goodness sake they believe it is okay to do this w/out anesthesia. Your child--like my son--could not nurse because he was in shock). Also, as to advice saying you should request a "numbing" agent? on the most sensitive area of a boy child's body? drugs aren't tested on children! Not to mention any medication must be processed by an immature and developing liver (note also, vaseline is a petroleum product...there are homeopathic remedies much more effective and not harmful--calendula, etc). I did think the advice to consult the Physicians Against Circumcision was very good advice. Also, an anthroposophical physician (these are M.D.s who are also trained in anthroposophical medicine) would likely have a different/less invasive approach, and would address the child's total well-being: their spirit, their soul, the whole sweet bambino (not just a body part as if it is something separate from them). Good luck and trust your gut! I too, wish it was an easier choice. Remember: awareness/knowledge is what empowers us. Don't accept "what is standard practice" as right or good in every situation...but I digress...thanks for your blog!

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  11. This breaks my heart, yet another story about the damage done by this stupid practice. And the blame lies SOLELY on health professionals. Shannon, you are very brave and you should take a deep breath...and forgive yourself.

    It is not your fault you grew up in a cutting culture where nearly every grown man is circumcised and this practice is widely promoted via the media and cultural conditioning.

    It is not your fault that your healthcare provider was not taught about the importance of the foreskin in medical school, only how to remove it.

    It is not your fault that your healthcare provider neglected to talk to you about circumcision in any of your 10+ prenatal appointments so you could be INFORMED.

    It is not your fault that you were not told any of the risks, including infection, blood loss and death.

    It is not your fault and you are not alone in your regret. So give yourself a hug and talk to every single person you come in contact with so no little boy has to endure the trauma of circumcision and so no mother will ever have to tell your same story. You are a good mama.

    Also, about the adhesions, leave them alone. When he is old enough and the foreskin starts to separate on its own, make an appt with a urologist and discuss what can be done. Perhaps restoring the foreskin properly, rather than Re-circumcising him can be an option.

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  12. Wow you lady's have way to much time and emotions invested in this I'm 30 yrs old and circumcised and my grandfather was not at the age of 55 he has to have it done beocouse of an infection and I actually like mine like that have y'all noticed how no men have been complaining about it. Yes sometimes probs happen but that's life get over it and move on.

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    1. Forum called "Grief" on foreskin-restoration.org: Full of men expressing their disatisfaction and grief, even, at their circumcisions:

      http://foreskin-restoration.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?s=3e2c400c9413f75439f42a01644620df&f=61

      Class Action Lawsuit comprised by men who believe Circumcision is Sexual Abuse, etc.

      http://www.sueeasy.com/class_action_detail.php?case_id=258

      I really didn't want to "go there" on this post but thought it would be important to point out that not all men are just happy with what was done to them.

      Also, improper care of the intact male is almost always the reason for "medically necessary" foreskin amputation later on in life.

      http://www.cirp.org/library/hygiene/

      And one last point, circumcision affects women too. Vaginal dryness, chafing, inability or difficulty climaxing, painful intercourse... these can all be problems caused by circumcision.

      http://www.helium.com/items/477183-how-male-circumcision-hurts-women

      It's ok to like your genital status but to act like everyone should is naive.

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    2. Men grieving the loss of their foreskins:

      http://foreskin-restoration.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=61

      Men co-operating to create a class-action lawsuit on the grounds that "Circumcision is Sexual Abuse, Torture, and Mutilation" - Case Summary:
      1 million infant boys are sexually tortured and mutilated each year in the U.S. This is a violation of their human rights.

      Case Detail:
      Any man that was circumcised is due reparations for the lost sexual functioning he inevitably suffered since circumcision removes the most sensitive part of the penis.

      http://www.sueeasy.com/class_action_detail.php?case_id=258

      Men actively trying to restore their foreskins:

      tlctugger.com/
      www.restoringforeskin.org/
      www.foreskinrestore.com/
      www.norm.org
      www.foreskin-restoration.net/
      www.cirp.org/pages/restore.html

      Also majority of "medically necessary" foreskin amputations on children and adults is a direct result of improper foreskin care in infancy -

      http://www.cirp.org/library/hygiene/

      As for why we care so much - for one, we are mothers, our entire devotion is to protect our children. Our female children and our male children. Also, it goes both ways - circumcision hurts women, too.

      http://www.helium.com/items/477183-how-male-circumcision-hurts-women

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    3. Have you been to circumcisionharm.org? Men dont complain with other men when hanging out.. but they suffer in silence. Also if they dont complain then why are so many trying to restore?? ( I think there are 200 000 members on the biggest restoration site)

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    4. Men absolutely complain. Please google foreskin restoration, over a quarter of a million men are in the process of restoration.

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  13. Dear Shannon, I have a son who is now 4 1/2 and he still has issues with the circumcision. His Dr. advised me to pull it back every day and clean it as well as to make sure that i pull the skin away in order that the head does not stick to the sides. I find that if this is done on a daily basis along with neosporan it has less of an effect on his sensitiviy. Although I can tell you with out a doubt that he is still very sensitive and I too feel horible about the situation. But I can tell you that if you don't do anything and let the skin stick to the sides then he will hurt more when he gets an irrection and it pulls away on it's own, plus he won't know how to care for it as he matures. I'm not sure about your little guy, but my guy also has an issue where the skin although cut from the circumcision is still too long and therefore requires more care as if he were never circumsized so I have a double whammy problem. The dr. say's he just hasn't fully dropped yet because he is a big boy weighing about 60 lbs and that his stumach musels will eventually pullstop pressing on his penis mussel as he streches and grows taller? I am considering taking him to a speacialist also to see if they recommend further skin removal so I can avoind having to pull back on his foreskin everday to clean it. My other son is going to be 6 soon and he had 0 issues his pennis droppede fine and his circumcission was perfect. I never have had to pull back the skin to clean his pennis. Although when he was younger he use to complain when he would get an irrection. Thankfully he no longer complains so I assume his foreskin is just the right size. P.S. My son's Dr. called the attachement of the forskin to the head "smegma" and advised that it is very common and that one out of three of his son's also had the same issue and is now completely fine. Hope this gives you some peace of mind. Lilly

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  14. Oh my goodness, follow the advice of the first doctor, PLEASE. Don't pull it back! That just causes pain and scarring! If you leave it alone, it'll readhere just like an intact penis, and eventually separate on its own when it would have if he had never been circumcised. The only way you'd need to do anything is if it effects his ability to urinate in some way. DON'T go to a urologist!! Most urologists are cut happy and they'll probably want to recircumcise him. I know it seems bad right now, but he's very lucky he has that extra skin there, as it'll help as he grows up to make sure he has enough skin for an erection (many men don't have enough, which is why they started doing them this way instead). If you want to ask someone else, contact DOC-doctors opposing circumcision. They'll give you an honest answer and have several urologists on their board that aren't cut happy.

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    1. Yes! Thank you! I am appalled that all these women are pulling it back, either on their own or with a doctors advice. They really need to read more! The foreskin around the penis separates by itself around age 4. You are not to EVER pull it back, not matter what! Every where I have looked about circumcision has said never EVER to pull the foreskin, even if it is reattaching. It will, as you said, go about natures way as if you had not done the procedure at all.

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    2. Additionally, medical literature shows that normal foreskin retraction occurs closer to adolescence, with the average age being 10.6 years. So it's important to remind parents that even if their child is 4 years, or 8 years, or even 10 years and still not retracting, this does not mean they should begin manipulating and tearing their sons' foreskins.

      I'm glad you are finding only informed sources that talk about not retracting. It's been a long battle to achieve such consistency. For example, popular baby magazines release articles wrongly talking about additional cleaning or forced retraction. And based on the concerned emails of parents looking for assistance, many doctors and nurses remain very uninformed on this topic (at least in America). Your claim that you've never found bad advice gives me hope that our culture is changing. :)

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  15. Oh my goodness, follow the advice of the first doctor, PLEASE. Don't pull it back! That just causes pain and scarring! If you leave it alone, it'll readhere just like an intact penis, and eventually separate on its own when it would have if he had never been circumcised. The only way you'd need to do anything is if it effects his ability to urinate in some way. DON'T go to a urologist!! Most urologists are cut happy and they'll probably want to recircumcise him. I know it seems bad right now, but he's very lucky he has that extra skin there, as it'll help as he grows up to make sure he has enough skin for an erection (many men don't have enough, which is why they started doing them this way instead). If you want to ask someone else, contact DOC-doctors opposing circumcision. They'll give you an honest answer and have several urologists on their board that aren't cut happy.

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  16. I have 4 sons. With my 1st son, the skin around the base grew up over the site of the circumcision. I don't even think you can really call it foreskin that grew up over it...it was part of the base of his penis. When he was around 3 or 4, it eventually pulled away on its own, but it left red, raw skin for a few days and it hurt him so much. :-( It healed and is fine now (as far as I know...he's almost 12)

    With son #2, had him circumcised as well (thought the 1st go-round was a fluke and that we did something wrong for it to grow like that) and his turned out fine.

    Son #3, circumcised as well and his has also grown up over just like with son #1. He is now 5 years old and it's still like that and I seriously don't know what to do. I keep hoping it will pull away and be fine on its own like with son #1, but what if it doesn't?? Should I take him now to have surgery?? I just don't know... I certainly don't want to do anything intentional that will cause him pain until he's old enough to explain WHY it's happening. (because mommy was an idiot...so very sorry, sweetie...)

    Son #4...not circumcised. I finally learned my lesson, did some research, and left him intact. I wish with all my heart that I could go back in time and leave the first 3 intact. *heartache*

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  17. Thank you for sharing your story. I let my husband decide what we should do for our son. He grew up circumcised and so did every other male he knew. All boys and me that I knew grew up the same. My husband never questioned it. My husband chose for our son what he would have chosen for ourself. But he doesn't know any differently. I think my recent realization is going to awaken all of the hurt in my husband. It is something that he needs to grieve and it breaks my heart for him and my son.

    Neither of us had any awareness. Now I hate myself for my ignorance. I only wanted to love my beautiful son and give him every ounce of love and life in this world. I read all of the books, attended parenting classes. There is so much information out there when you search for it. Why did none of it end up in my hands? How could I not have known??!! Why do doctor's still do this? Why is it covered by insurance? How are we socially accepting such madness? I don't know how I will ever get over this grief. And I hope that my son can one day forgive me. Now I need to work on forgiving myself. It sucks that this is a reality, but I am glad to know that I am not alone.

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  18. oh my god... I'm so sorry you went through this horror, you & your family, the doctors of America have failed their duty to parents, you trusted them.

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  19. Thank you for sharing your story. Sharing our stories hopefully is the way to educate some people and create a growing awareness for better conditions for the upcoming generations.

    And I hope you manage to get the condition corrected. Best wishes.

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  20. Hi there shannon, I know this was a coupke years ago, however ive been freaking out today because the same thing had happened to my baby, his skin reattached and today during his 1 year checkup with no warning or anything the dr just pulled it back and it was very painful for him! I was upset, and disnt know how to respond except for what the heck and she reassured me that it wasnt incredibly painful but more uncomfortable, however he's been in quite a bit of pain and can barely sleep, im worried about him, his foreskin there is so red ever since sje did that and he is super uncomfortable, if you dont mind me asking, how did you end up handling everything? I hope its all ok now.

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